Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Breakin the Law....PI Time Trial!

Since there wasn't anyone there to take pictures and they did not have an event photographer, I've had to improvise for this report on the Spring Time Trial at Presque Isle on Sunday, April 26th.

This is an anual event and I've consistently done better each year. In 2006, my first year back in the sport after a 16 year absence, I barely averaged 20mph. Last spring I was almost at 26 mph, so this year I had high hopes after the Spain training camp.

The race came at the end of a recovery week, so I felt good and rested. As I started, the first mile (on the 12.5 mile flat course) felt great, but soon realized I needed to back it down a little. The heart rate was 185 just a few moments into the race and I was trying to hold 180 or just over for the duration.

Here's what it felt like at the start, and for the first mile or so. I was on a rocket ready to go and have a great race.

Miles 1-3 went by quick. Riders started every 15 seconds and I was picking the riders that started ahead of me off with ease and regularity. It's nice to have a 'target' ahead and around each bend to ride to and then head to the next rider. Heart rate remained high, never saw anything below 185 for this stretch. Also, it's on a one-way road with 2 lanes for much of the first part of the race and the right hand lane is for bikes, the left hand lane is for cars. They are limited to 25mph so for the first few miles of the race I was passing cars, which is always fun.

Miles 4-6 felt good. Just kept trying to hammer and keep the effort as maximum as I could. I didn't feel quite like I was riding a rocket anymore, but I still felt good and imagine I looked like this as I sped on.

I had stripped my bike down, no water bottles, and although I tried to hydrate all morning I was really thirsty and dying for a drink early on. Heart rate remained high but I felt good otherwise.

After mile 6, or maybe a mile or so later it started to really feel like work. Legs felt like noodles, every little breeze felt like a hurricane and any little incline or the one small bridge the course goes over felt like mountains. I kept my head down, tried to maintain an aero tuck and never came out of the aero bars once. I knew if I could get to mile 10 that I'd be ok, and I just kept focusing on getting to the 2.5 to go mark. Heart rate remained high and by now my sunglasses were covered in sweat and getting hard to see out of. I continued to pass riders and had not yet been passed. As per usual there was a slight headwind during the return phase of the loop, and although I was still going along at a pretty good clip I felt I must have looked like this.

Got to mile 10 quicker than I thought, and the rest was a blur. By now could hardly see out of my sunglasses and I was simply holding on. Came around the final bend and saw the small group of people standing at the finish line way down the road, but I was not 100% sure it was the end of the ride. Looked at my time on my Garmin Edge and saw I was at 27 and change. I knew it was going to be close for me to break 28 minutes, but for some reason I was still not sure what I was seeing was the finish so I didn't try to sprint just yet. Once I got a little closer I realized it was in fact the end but I had nothing left in the tank for any kind of sprint to the finish. Just put my head down and tried to finish the last 20-30 seconds as hard as I could, which at the time felt like 12 mph.

Got done, hit stop, and saw 28:10, but I know it took me a few seconds to hit the stop on the Garmin. Rode around for 5-10 minutes to try to cool down then went to the car to ditch the sweaty clothes, get into my sneakers and get some recovery drink in me. Waited around for the results and found out I came in 12th out of about 175 or so, 2nd in the Male 35-39 age group. Final time was 28:05 which resulted in an average speed of 26.7 mph, and was a 57 second personal best from the same ride last spring. Final HR average for 28 minutes was 185. And for kickers the Garmin data shows I did about 1/4 of the loop in Lake Erie.
Afterwards went home, rested up for a little bit then went out and did an 8 mile run with some hills. Legs felt really good and was able to clip along at a 7:10 pace without feeling like I was putting out a ton of effort.
Up next is a big week of training and one last big weekend (HIM simulation on Saturday, long ride Sunday) before a short taper week and then Jerseyman Half on May 9th.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Week of 4-13: Intervals, Hills and 100yds of fury...

This was an interesting week. It was the last week before a rest week that precedes a big training block from 4/25 through 5/2 which will be followed by a taper week in prep for the Jerseyman Half on 5/9.

Lots of hard work was put in this week:

Monday- Was supposed to be an off day, but since the day before was Easter Sunday that ended up being my off day so I used Monday as a tempo run with hills. 7.2 miles in 47:30, or about a 6:40 pace. Legs did not feel fresh but it was still a PB for that route.

Tuesday-Swam 2,600 at lunch time. Mix of drills, some 100's on 2 min rest (coming in around 1:03-1:05) and 5x100' ind medleys.
In the evening did 1 hr hard on the trainer (Charmichael Training Race Simulation DVD). This is a 1 hr+ ride that has some sustained hard efforts, sprints, and hill climbing to simulate a 1hr race. Since I plan on doing more shorter faster stuff along with some more bike races this year I try to do this about once a week. I hate and love this DVD at the same time.

Wednesday: Swam 2,200 at lunch. Worked on pacing 100's, holding about a 1:20 for 100yd pace on my 'steady' sets.
Evening long run started out solo but immediately ran into a racing buddy out for a shorter run. We ran about 5 to 5.5 miles together in about 45 minutes. It was nice to have some company. Finished another 6.2 miles solo in the next 45 minutes for a total of 11.7 miles in 1:29 (7:36 pace). Was really happy how fresh my legs felt and easy the pace seemed.

Thursday: Swam 3,200 in 50 minutes in the pool. Pool was packed with a lot of slow 'wavemakers'. Main set was 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 hundred resting 10-50 seconds between. Even numbers were swum easy, odds were harder effort.
Evening brought another trainer ride. This time it was intervals with a short warmup followed by 2,4,6,8,6,4,2 minutes hard, resting 1/2 the time of the previous interval. This can be a kick ass hard workout, and never will 8 minutes seem so long nor will a 4 minute rest interval go by so quickly! This is my 3rd or 4th week in a row doing this workout and I am now doing it 1-2 gears heavier than the first time I did it and using 1 more level of resistance on the trainer so I know it's working.

Friday: Was told to run hills, 1hr. Went from the YMCA at lunch with a couple of guys to run Radio Tower hill. Pace was easy on the way to the hill, I pushed the hill (about 400 feet in 1 mile) and made it down the other side well before the other guys. Turned around and ran about halfway up the backside until I met up with the fellows on their way down and turned around and took it easy back home. 5.4 miles in 44 minutes, but that's with a lot of climbing! Legs were tired after this run and the week was starting to catch up. Profile of the tower hill (note, it's also a great power climb on the bike.):

Saturday: This is where things got interesting. Plan for the weekend was to mix my long ride in Saturday with the first leg of the Quad Games, the 100yd swim, then do my ride/run early Sunday. Threw my swimsuit and goggles in a small pack and headed out Saturday morning. Took it easy and did a nice 25-30 mile ride up to Edinboro University to the pool for the swim. Kept reminding myself that I had to swim yet and even though it was only 4 laps sprinting requires a lot of kick and my legs were already trashed from the week's efforts. Arrived at the pool/fieldhouse to find a huge volleyball tournament going on and no sign of anyone swimming. Double checked my registration papers to find out I was there a day early, the swim was not until Sunday! Headed home, dropped off my pack and went out to get another hour or so of riding in with some good hills. Had to be home by 1:00 so I cut my planned 4hrs short and got in 3:26 of base miles with some good climbs the last hour for almost 70 miles total.

Sunday: New plan was to drive the car up, swim, then come back and ride later in the day as I was tied up from noon until 5-6. Arrived to finally find the swim meet in progress. My session started at 10:30 and we were given a 15 minute warmup. During warmup my legs were definitely tired but I felt good otherwise. I used to be able to swim 55 or just under easily in meets. Often this was done as part of our 4x100 relay and often it was done shortly after swimming the 100 breastroke, so I was used to swimming tired. Two years ago I swam a :58 something so I was hoping for :57xx or so as I had actually worked more on sprinting in the pool the last few weeks. As soon as I hit the water for the first lap I knew I was in trouble. Had a good start but I had zero kick. I got to the first wall just behind the people in the lanes on each side of me, had a good turn but not much of a push off. 3 more laps of trying to kick with dead legs and I struggled to a 1:00.29. In the quad games format each second equals 30 seconds, so my time for leg 1 of the event should be around30 minutes, or just over. Not too worried though because I will be able to make up a lot of time on the bike and hopefully run this year. Was tired so for the rest of the day I took the kids to the park and we had a picnic and played on the swings and jungle gym and stuff for a few hours.

Now I get to enjoy a rest week before the PI Time Trials this weekend followed by a very hard training week leading up to the Jerseyman taper.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Benchmarks and goals for 2009...

So racing season is right around the corner. It seems like it's been a long time coming as with the trip to Spain I've got a several week jump on last year. Also it seems like I'm way ahead of where I was at this time last year fitness wise due to the effects of a big run focus over the winter and the Spain training camp. That, along with a continued improved diet from QT2Systems has really got me looking forward to 2009.

Coach John and I talked at the end of last year about doing more shorter races with more speed and power workouts thrown in. So far it's seemed to have been working like a charm and I'm looking forward to putting things to the test soon. The plan, as you can see, still has some distance workouts but when faced with time constraints I've been doing what I can but adding more intensity and not focusing so much on the long-slow-distance Ironman workouts that I've done the last two years.

During the last couple of years I've come to do some regular routes that I use as benchmarks of fitness. You know the kind where you know where you should be when you reach a particular intersection or landmark whether it be on a bike or run course. Sometimes these can be good as you can continually see improvements, other times if you are having a bad day you can be discouraged by getting to these landmarks in a time slower than you think you are capable of, or your total time for a familiar route may be off what it should be.

Lately, though, I've been busting through barriers just a few years ago I never thought possible.

On the bike, I have really noticed the hills, if you can call them that, seem much, much smaller after riding in Spain. Hills I used to climb in my largest rear cog I now regularly do with 2 or more gears left to go. One ride I used several times last year was a nice 60 mile ride with some rolling hills from my house to the Edinboro Olympic Triathlon course then back. I always rode it at a 1/2 Ironman pace or so and last year was happy to average 20mph or just under. I think in 3 rides last year I finally broke 20 the last time.

This year I went out a few weeks ago on a cool spring day and kept the effort light, probably slightly below 1/2 Ironman pace. End result was an easy 20.5 mph pace on a day I wasn't even trying to push things. The road to and from the course is fairly flat but there are a couple of good hills in the middle and of course the always present climb home:

The first test on the bike comes up in a couple of weeks with the annual Spring Time Trial at Presque Isle. A flat 12.5 mile course that I rode at 25.8 mph last year. Goal this year is to crack 26+. After that I'm thinking of racing several local races when they fit into the schedule.

I am also surprised at how much I continue to see improvements in running. I figured this would be the case while doing 40-75 miles per week over the run focus this winter, but with the added bike and swim training the mileage has dropped to about half that. Yet I continue to see marked improvements in the run. My weekly long run on a rolling course has remained in the mid 7 minute pace without feeling too hard. I also entered at the last minute a 5k two weeks ago on a cold and windy day. The course was advertised as flat but it was actually pretty rolling and from 1.5 to about 2.5 miles it was uphill into what seemed like a 20mph headwind. Last fall I ran my best 5k in 19:52 on a perfect day on a flat as pancake course. Two weeks ago I ran a 19:07 on a crappy day in crappy conditions. Like an idiot I forgot my watch so I did not know I was that close to breaking the 19 minute barrier but I'm confident had I known I was so close I could have dug a little deeper for those last 8 seconds.

I also have a training run I do every couple of weeks from the local YMCA. We call it the Monday 7 as it used to be run every Monday by the group of guys that runs regularly from the YMCA at lunch. It's uphill for 3 solid miles including some stretches of 5-6 percent that come at you pretty early. I remember running it in 2007 and breaking 1 hour for the first time and thinking it was hard. By the middle of 2008 I could run it in 52-53 minutes consistently, although it still seemed hard. In the middle of my run focus for the Disney marathon I think I was around 51 minutes and could not think of how hard it would be to break 50 minutes. However a few weeks ago I surprised myself and ran a 48:30. Today I lowered that by another minute which worked out to 7+ miles at 6:40 pace. My new goal is to run it in 45 minutes by mid summer. Here's the run profile that proves it is not fast.

Up first for the season is the JerseyMan half on May 9th. I'm headed to the Garden State for a smackdown with buddy Joe in his home state. I was not able to put together any good 70.3 races last year and that still burns me. So if things stay on track I will be racing angry at JerseyMan and finally cracking that 5hr barrier which I know I can do.

Other that it will be a slew of local races that will probably include the Highmark Quad Games, Edinboro Triathlon, Presque Isle Triathlon, maybe Cleavland Triathlon, a few local 5k's, some more bike races and then the ultimate test, the Savageman Half in September. Oh, and still in there is putting on a race, The Dam Tri, at the end of June.

Should be a fun year...